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Frank Zappa - Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.53 | 252 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch is a good, but not great, example of one of art-rock's grand masters transitioning into the '80's (a turbulent decade for prog rock). Here Zappa blends his typical blend of sarcasm and musical wizardry with the highly produced and polished tone of the then modern sound. The effect is an enjoyable one, which while not as powerful (or entertaining) as his classics, remains a fun listen and good example of one of the music industry's most subversive figures.

The first half is upbeat, bottom heavy, driving, and intense. The lyrics are nonsensical and superficial, but the playing is energetic and exciting. There's a bombastic sarcasm in each of these songs, and while they may go on a little longer than needed, are great when taken individually. A lot of fun even if they don't have an especially deep level of complexity thanks to the fine instrumental performances.

The second half is more in vein of the classic and quirky Zappa sound, but the set piece "Drowning Witch" loses its melodic focus quickly to become a 9-minute guitar noodling extravaganza. It would be crazy to complain about Zappa's guitar work, but one can skip through most of this track and hear almost the same sounding licks and effects. Really, the only thing that makes this qualify as a song is the excellent work by the rhythm section, which keeps things in key and moving forward interestingly. "Envelopes" and "Teen-Age Prostitute" are more bite sized and easier to digest, "Teen-Age Prostitute" especially. This track is great because it takes the trademark bounce of Zappa's enjoyable instrumentals and kicks them into overdrive. Heavy guitars and dynamic bass lines make for a rip-roaring close. It should be noted that the second half of the album is recorded live, adding an interesting tone.

A worthy album for fans introduced to Zappa through his other, more engaging work, or those ready for a tongue-in- cheek collection of weird '80's hard rock.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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